Only half of American small businesses survive the first five years, and only a quarter make more than $1 million in sales. Many small business owner find themselves busily running around, attempting to act as accountant, sales rep, and social media manager, in addition to being CEO. Are you spreading yourself too thin to see the big picture? It’s OK to delegate and delegation can even help you.
Small Business & Sacrifice
Owning a small business can mean a lot of personal sacrifice. Nearly half of small business owners use their personal savings to pay for business expenses, and nearly as many invest every dime of extra cash back into the business. Only 17% use extra cash for retirement savings and even fewer invest it for themselves or their family.
The sacrifice doesn’t stop with money either. More than 80% of small business owners work weekends, and more than half work major holidays. 60% take just one vacation each year, and three-quarters spend that their time off tied to their laptops, working.
Devoting time and money to your business is important to the success of your business, but being overworked, stressed, and losing sanity is not. Whether you’re sacrificing your time with long hours, and no holidays, or skipping paychecks to float the business. Sacrificing too much will leave you stressed out, exhausted, and unable to make the best decisions for the future of your business.
Making choices takes effort, even when those choices are small. The more decisions you make, the harder each choice becomes. And when our decision-making powers are pushed the their limits, our choices will often become reactive instead of proactive.
If one of these profiles describes you, you’re probably suffering from decision fatigue:
- Paralyzed Overthinker: Do you avoid making choices until you’re forced to face them? Or think endlessly about the choices available until time runs out?
- Overwhelmed Hothead: Are you easily frustrated when faced with a decision? Do you argue over simple decisions?
- Immediate-Satisfaction Seekers: Do you make decision impulsively? Are your choice sometimes illogical? Do you favor short-term solutions?
Decision fatigue robs you of the ability to see the big picture. You’ll end up making choices that are easier or faster in the moment, but mean more work later on. If you feel like you’re always fighting fires, and never get the chance to make long-term goals, you’re seeing the effects of decision fatigue.
Why You Should Delegate
There’s an easy way to cut down on your personal sacrifices and reduce decision fatigue: learn how to delegate. Studies show that CEO with high delegation skills will generate 33% more revenue than those with low delegation skills. Instead of wasting your brain-power handwriting paychecks or managing office supplies, conserve your efforts for the big decisions and form a trusted staff to help with the rests.
Studies show that people with the best self-control conserve their decision-making for emergencies and important decisions. Everything else comes down to structured days and procedures that allow you to make decisions once, and reuse them for completion of routine tasks and operations.
Building a Team
Having the right team is important if you’re going to delegate successfully. While many small businesses struggle to hire and keep employees, there are options available to suit your needs. Consider how much work you have available, and what skills you need for your team. You might be better off investing in full or part-time employees.
If your business is seasonal, or can’t cover the cost of benefits, contract workers could be a better choice. Contract workers will save you the cost of paying benefits or training employees, as they generally already have the skills you need. But there’s no guarantee your flex staff will available when you need them.
What to Delegate
The art of delegation starts with picking the right tasks to delegate. Your goal is to rely on the expertise of others and to eliminate tasks that don’t require your own expertise or input. Day to day tasks and decision don’t need your constant input, so step back and let someone else take the reigns ― you’ll have more time to focus on the big picture and moving your business forward.
Don’t have great accounting skills? No problem! Find someone who does who you can rely on to get things done right, and probably in less time than it would take you to do it yourself. Spending too much time performing organization tasks like data entry or filing? Maybe it’s time to hire a secretary or some part-time office help.
Other Tasks to Delegate
- Social media
- Legal counsel
- Web design
How to Delegate
When it comes to delegation, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. You should always consider your employees’ skills and whether they are matched to the tasks at hand. You shouldn’t expect a social media manager to suddenly take over your accounting. If you don’t have any employees with the right skills, you might need to hire some new talent.
Another important consideration when delegating tasks is to keep in mind how much time your employees have available. Delegating tasks to employees who are already struggling to get their work done, or staying late every night is sure to add to their stress level and may cause you lose a dedicated employee.
When your employees do have the time and skills to take on new task, it’s important to acknowledge their efforts. After all, you’re asking them accept more responsibility for the same job, and little gratitude can go a long way. Acknowledge a job well done, and offer constructive feedback when necessary ㅡ there will doubtless be growing pains along the way.
Secret to Success: Policies & Procedures
Successful delegation requires your business operations to run smoothly and consistently. You can only delegate in a company if every decision doesn’t hinge on a single person’s know-how. Once you create the policies and procedure to achieve smooth operations, you’ll be able to understand delegation and delegate successfully and proactively approach problems.
Your business will need an operations or training manual that defines how things are done. Having a manual ensures everyone is on the same page and employees know how to operate the business, even the owner isn’t there.
Training Manual Contents
- Mission statement
- Company’s story and history
- Descriptions of major systems
- Outlines of key operations
- Company culture, values, and goals
- Training materials
Your company’s training materials should include a comprehensive overview of operations and instructions for following common procedures. You should outline the policies that employees are expected to follow and what do when a problem arises that isn’t in the manual. Provide a copy of the manual to every employee, and open yourself to suggestions for clarification or revisions.
With the right procedures in place, you can free up time for yourself and all your employees. Instead of starting every project proposal from scratch, create a form or outline you can use to start, and include common needed information, like a description of your business in the form. Similarly, creating form letter to respond to common client queries is great way to save everyone time.
There’s no shame in asking for help, in fact 58% of small business owners would advise new new owners not to fear asking for help.